A controversial Scottish Government plan to appoint a “named person” for every child could begin before a baby is born.
Guidance on the new law, which is due to come into effect next year, states that the named person could be involved in “planning and support” in the last stages of pregnancy.
The Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014 will see every Scottish child allocated a named person, usually a health worker up to the age of five, followed by a teacher.
Opponents of the policy claim parents will become “helpless spectators” in their children’s lives.
It has emerged that the named person for each child would be identified about seven months into the pregnancy, with mothers then offered an opportunity to meet with their baby’s named person and a midwife.
The guidance states: “Where additional wellbeing needs are anticipated at birth the prospective named person should be involved in planning and providing supports to eliminate, reduce or mitigate risks to wellbeing.”
Unborn children would not covered by the Act, however, meaning the meetings would not be legally required.
Colin Hart, a spokesman from the No to Named Person (NO2NP) campaign, said: “The guidance regarding pregnant women is symptomatic of the general problems associated with this law which undermines parents and stretches already limited resources.
“Parents will become helpless spectators in the lives of their children and that will start in the mother’s womb as state control is extended there.”
A Scottish Government spokesman said: “The service strengthens the supportive role already performed by teachers and health visitors for families and allows the named person to call on other services to give support if needed.
“It can prevent early concerns going unchecked and potentially becoming more serious issues. Individual teachers or health visitors will not be liable as ultimate responsibility lies with the health board or local authority.
“In Highland, where the approach was piloted, experience has shown the system reduces the workload on hard-pressed staff.”